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Surrey, BC, Police Transition Deal From RCMP to Local Force Complete, Says Minister

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A long-running and fractious negotiation process between the British Columbia government and the City of Surrey over which department will police the Metro Vancouver city has ended with an extended cash agreement.

The deal sees the RCMP being replaced by the independent Surrey Police Service on Nov. 29 as part of a $250-million, 10-year agreement between the province and the City of Surrey, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said on July 10.

It ensures safety for Surrey residents and comes with a guarantee the local government will not levy a police tax to cover transition costs over the next decade, he said.

“This is a significant change,” Mr. Farnworth said at a news conference. “It’s the largest police transition in the history of the province, and indeed the country. There have been lots of challenges along the way, but the bottom line is we now have an agreement.”

It ends a bitter two-year process that saw name-calling and court action by the city as its council attempted to go back to the RCMP amid an ongoing transition to the independent force.

The final agreement was reached after Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke told her council last month she accepted a judicial review that ruled the province has the authority to complete the transition from the RCMP to the local force.

Ms. Locke, who did not attend the news conference, also said earlier that despite accepting the B.C. Supreme Court ruling she was still not in favour of the province’s mandated transition to the Surrey Police Service.

But Mr. Farnworth said Surrey council, including Ms. Locke, has now accepted the government’s $150 million transition offer, which gives an additional guarantee of $20 million over five years to cover costs if Surrey Police Service salaries are higher than what the city would have paid RCMP officers.

“I haven’t yet spoken with the mayor about the agreement,” he said. “I know that the mayor is dealing with some personal issues, family issues, a death in the family right now, but the fact that the City of Surrey and the province have reached this agreement, I think, is an indication that all of us want to move on with this, and I’m very pleased that that’s happening.”

The Surrey Police Service will become the official police force in the city on Nov. 29, Mr. Farnworth said.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General says the Surrey Police Service, with 431 sworn officers and staff, is already the second largest municipal police department in B.C., after the Vancouver Police Department.

Mr. Farnworth acknowledged the transition process was at times bumpy but said the end result will benefit the province, the city and local residents.

“It’s about moving forward,” he said. “It’s what the City of Surrey wants. It’s what the province wants and it’s what the people of Surrey want, and just as importantly, it’s also what the hard working men and women, whether they be Surrey Police Service or RCMP, want.”

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